“Wild Cat Blues” – Clarence Williams’ Blue Five (1923)

Okeh; New York, July 30, 1923: Thomas Morris-c/John Mayfield-tb/Sidney Bechet-ss/Clarence Williams-p/Buddy Christian-bj.

 

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Sidney Bechet; New York, 1947: Photo source.

Sidney Bechet–the man behind that visceral, growling, vibrato sound of the soprano sax.

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Sidney Bechet; 1939: Photo/film clip from the Guardian.

 

 

” A Monday Date” – Earl Hines solo (1928)

Q.R.S.; Long Island City, December 8, 1928: piano solo.

I don’t know anything specific about the Q.R.S record label but according to them, their “PRODUCTS are Better.”

I agree, that if you have Earl Hines on your label, your product is better!

Link to a 10 minute YouTube video clip with Earl Hines explaining his influences and demonstrating his signature “trumpet style” here. I think the clip’s been pulled from an episode of “Jazz Casual.” If you enjoy the piano style of Earl Hines, it’s definitely worth watching and hearing him speak about early jazz and his development.

“Louisiana” – Paul Whiteman And His Orchestra w/Bix (1928)

Victor; New York, April 23, 1928: Paul Whiteman-dir/Henry Busse-Charlie Margulis-Eddie Pinter-t/Bix Beiderbecke-c/Jack Fulton-tb-v/Boyce Cullen-Wilbur Hall-Bill Rank-tb/Izzy Friedman-cl-as-ts/Rube Crozier-cl-ss-as-bsn/Chester Hazlett-cl-bcl-ss-as/Frank Trumbauer-Cm-ss/Charles Strickfaden-cl-as-ts-bar/Red Mayer-cl-ts/Kurt Dieterle-Mischa Russell-Mario Perry-Matt Malneck-John Bowman-vn/Charles Gaylord-vn-v/Roy Bargy-Lennie Hayton-p/Mike Pingitore-bj/Min Leibrook-bb-bsx/Mike Trafficante-b/Harold McDonald-d/Bill Challis-d.

Bing Crosby-Jack Fulton-Charles Gaylord-Austin Young-vocals.

Arranged by Bill Challis. Worked into shape by Paul Whiteman.

I’ve never been to Louisiana and maybe the song is really about a girl anyway. But even after 50 listenings or so, I still find myself getting lost in the nuances and details of the arrangement.

Everyone in Whiteman’s band had to play their part straight except for Bix. Paul Whiteman would give him eight bars or so and let him be creative. Bix couldn’t read or write music and even found it difficult playing the same cornet riff twice with the same emotion and tambour

Many of the members in the orchestra, especially the established ones, resented Whiteman’s “favoritism” in allowing the young Bix such creative freedom and as a result, Bix never really was able to fit in fully with the other members of the ensemble.

This should have marked the apex of his career, as there was no greater honor at the time than to be asked to join Paul Whiteman’s orchestra.

But perhaps joining Whiteman’s orchestra, and confronting all of the challenges and demands that came with a touring, entertaining and professional organization, proved detrimental to his psychological and physical health–as seen with his decline into his alcoholism, of which he ultimately died from, three years later. Rejection and isolation seem to be a recurring themes in the story of Bix. 

“Yes! I’m In The Barrel” – Louis Armstrong And His Hot Five (1925)

Okeh; Chicago, November 12, 1925: Armstrong-c/Kid Ory-tb/Johnny Dodds-cl/Lil Armstrong-p/Johnny St. Cyr-bj.

The “Hot Five” never played live in public. Louis Armstrong was playing with Fletcher Henderson (1924–11/1925) in New York when the opportunity to record sides with Okeh came up. According to Armstrong, he’d just “get together the band,” and worked on a few ideas beforehand and then played the songs live and unrehearsed and “made up them things.” (Jazz Casual episode 01-23-1963 with Ralph Gleason). The naming of the songs was even an afterthought.

“Yes! I’m in the Barrel” was the second song pressed from the first “Hot Five” sessions. I think it was fitting to have “My Heart,” written by Lil Armstrong as the first pressed single. I don’t know too many specifics about Louis Armstrong’s career without looking them up, but I do know that without Lil, we wouldn’t have had Louis Armstrong as we know him today.

Below is another “first” from a strong-willed lady, Annie Edson Taylor, who, like Lil, also got screwed over by a man.

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Photo source.

Annie Edson Taylor, in 1901, was the first person to successfully make it over Niagara Falls while inside a barrel.

“She earned fame, but not fortune. Her manager ran off with her precious barrel and sold it to a theatre in Chicago that was staging a play based on her exploits. Taylor hired a lawyer to reclaim it, and the lawsuit consumed what little money she had earned lecturing about her adventure. It was ten years before anyone else would be brave enough to attempt the barrel ride, but in the decade of her monopoly Taylor proved too dour and serious for the hyperbolic world of sideshows. The “Heroine of Horseshoe Falls,” as Taylor styled herself, died in poverty, having eked out a meager living by allowing tourists to have themselves photographed alongside her with a replica barrel; her grave doesn’t record the date of her death or birth—only of her stunt.” 

Read more about Annie Taylor, which includes the above quote–here.

“Original Charleston Strut” – Thomas Morris Past Jazz Masters (1923)

Okeh; New York, February, 1923: Thomas Morris-Bubber Miley-c/Charlie Irvis-tb/unknown-ts-p-bj-d.

I’m not sure if Thomas Morris envisioned people doing the Charleston dance to this Charleston “strut” since this tune was recorded several months prior to the “Charleston” dance craze of late 1923. In other words, I’m not sure if the dance was even popular prior to the Broadway hit which exposed it.

And now that I’m thinking about it, is the act of strutting the same as the act of dancing anyway? I wouldn’t think so, but maybe it’s just semantics.

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“A primitive but often effective cornet soloist, Thomas Morris (the uncle of pianist Marlowe Morris) made quite a few records during the 1923-27 period although his style was considered quite dated after the rise of Louis ArmstrongMorris was based in New York from the beginning of the 1920s. He recorded with his Past Jazz Masters (eight titles during 1923) and his Hot Babies (ten songs plus nine alternate takes that comprise the best work of his career), Clarence WilliamsCharlie Johnson (1927), Fats Waller (1927) and many blues singers. However, Morris slipped away into obscurity in the 1930s. He worked as a red cap at Grand Central Station in the late 1930s and then became religious, re-emerging as Brother Pierre in Father Divine’s religious sect shortly before he passed away.” —Artist Biography by Scott Yanow

Photo of Thomas Morris and quote source.

“Fish Tail Blues” – Jelly-Roll Morton’s Kings of Jazz (1924)

Autograph; Chicago, September, 1924: Lee Collins-c/Roy Palmer-tb/”Balls” Ball-cl/Alex Poole-as/Jelly-Roll Morton-p.

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Issue Date: September 16, 1995

Wish I would have collected a few of these stamps when they were first issued.

The “Fish Tail” referenced in this song is not a braid, or a shirt or a long pleated skirt but rather a reference to a blues and jazz dance, which had originated in Africa. The main part of the dance included movements in which the dancer provocatively shakes their, well … “Fish Tail” in the form of a figure eights.

“Davenport Blues” – Bix And His Rhythm Jugglers (1925)

Gennett; Richmond, Ind., January 26, 1925: Bix Beiderbecke-c/Tommy Dorsey-tb/Don Murray-cl/Paul Mertz-p/Howdy Quicksell-bj(listed but not heard)/Tom Gargano-d.

One of two songs from Bix’s first recording date as a band leader.

Visit Bixography.com to read more about this recording date including Hoagy Carmichael’s memory of the session and other great accounts such as: “Bix drove with Hoagy Carmichael from Indianapolis and the musicians were supposed to meet Bix at the Gennett studios. Howdy Quicksell did not make it until the afternoon and therefore did not participate in the first two recordings, Toddlin’ Blues and Davenport Blues. ”

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The “fashionably late” Howard “Howdy” Quicksell; (b. 1901 – d. October 30, 1953).

I have a new video player that I’m still trying to figure out so if the overall video volume is too loud on these last few videos, let me know.